Posted: Mar 30, 2016 7:20 PM GDTUpdated: Mar 30, 2016 10:11 PM GDT
By JANET McCONNAUGHEY
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service acted improperly when it allowed tens of thousands of migratory aquatic birds to be shot each year to protect farmed and sport fish populations, a federal judge has ruled.
The agency said it lacked resources for a "hard look" at either the long-range environmental effects of or possible alternatives to its decisions about double-crested cormorants, and that just isn't a good reason, U.S. District Judge John D. Bates wrote.
Letting that stand could gut the National Environmental Protection Act, "since many an agency would frequently so argue," wrote Bates, a federal judge in
He ruled Tuesday on a pair of orders that opponents say let people kill up to 160,000 double-crested cormorants each year to protect sport fish in 24 states east of the
and farmed fish in 13 of those states. Mississippi
"The Service is reviewing and studying the decision," Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman Laury Parramore said in an email Wednesday.
The advocacy group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility sued the government to stop the practice, which is known as "lethal removal."
Fish and Wildlife has allowed fish farmers to kill cormorants that were eating or about to eat fish in their ponds since 1998. Five years later, it said Indian tribes and state and federal wildlife agents could kill those eating or about to eat "public resources of fish." Those orders have been renewed every five years.